Safety in West Philly

I’ve lived in West Philadelphia for slightly over 4 years now. Before I arrived here, I heard innumerable stories about the West Philly Ghetto, the increase in crime as one moves westwards, and the general need to be safe. I have consistently moved westwards in Philly, to my current location. I’ve driven through West Philly many times. I’ve never really come face to face with any of the horrendous activities that I read in the news. A friend had their bike stolen. Another was mugged, but got away safe. A third had money stolen outside of an ATM. But the worst yet is this news article.

A graduate student of Drexel was beaten up by 4 high school students from University City high school. It wasn’t a drunken brawl, where a couple of punches were thrown. He was nearly beaten to death. The worst part? I was in the middle of the afternoon, when school was let off early. What is scary is that it happened somewhere around 36th and Spring Garden Street. I used to live a few blocks away on 36th and Powelton. University City High School, the school that the students were from, is on 36th, between Market and Lancaster. I have walked past it many times — mornings, afternoons and nights. I’ve seen students sitting around there looking like they were doing nothing. I’ve walked past students in the middle of the afternoon when the get out of school. A lot of them look like they could beat me down without effort. And I’m talking about the girls.

This morning, I was working an event where students from the very same high school were present, and were being recruited to Drexel when they graduate. It got me thinking, about inner city schools in general. These students looked very, very normal. So why do some kids suddenly get such urges? Peer pressure is an incredibly strong force.

Another statistic that I just heard – from the beginning of January until the 22nd, there were 19 reported murders in Philadelphia. That is almost one a day. Pretty scary, huh? Anyway, rant time over. Just got to be more careful and encourage others to do so as well.